Review Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

It takes a long time to find this movie on the Internet (even though it is not too old). But it’s totally worth it. The thriller is great, crazy, violent and a little bit twisted. Viewers also can see a different Robert Downey Jr., long before Sherlock and Iron Man.


This is the first movie Shane Black directed. Before, he wrote the script for the famous “Lethal Weapon” and “The Last Boy Scout”. In this movie, Black applied to this movie part of his formula: The story is partly based on a Brett Halliday novel and keeps tabs on its own fictional dime-store scribe Johnny Gossamer, whose novels eerily echo the gumshoe smog of the plot. With the twisted and hidden puzzle investigation, the fast flow of story sometimes makes viewers can’t fully understand the case. Each time a puzzle is opened, we see a different picture, and not until the end we can see the whole picture of the corrupted world. The script and the movie itself are full of violent, drug, alcohol, sexual content, and implications which really makes the movie chaotic like Pulp Fiction (1994) of Quentin Tarantino.


Robert Downey Jr. is perfectly fit for the role and he seamlessly integrates the sweet and sour in Black’s script. Like the movie itself, his Harry careens a bit, hedonistic one moment and judgmental the next. But his tics and inconsistencies are washed away by an incessant, self-deprecating patter as if the spirit of Woody Allen via the mouth of Philip Marlowe. Just as Harry is an improvisational character–a thief pretending to be an actor pretending to be a detective–Downey delivers an improvisational performance, an extended riff in the syncopated, self-correcting rhythms of eternal insecurity. The movie sometimes can be seen as the monolog of Downey, he is in nearly every scene of the film, and when he’s physically absent his role as the narrator gives him an almost greater stature.


But Robert Downey isn’t a soloist. His collaboration with Val Kilmer is exceptionally good. Kilmer has always been talented. He can do when he plays off his fellow performers, allowing the action to come to him rather than trying to generate it all himself. Even the narrator depicts Van Kilmer as a gay person (and he said he is straight), Van Kilmer’s talent is showing both the gay and the straight personalities and it can be switched so fast that we barely can see the transition. Val Kilmer gives a hilarious performance, easily the best I can ever remember seeing from him, disclosing that given half a chance, and Black’s script gives him a much higher proportion than that, he can play comedy to the hilt. Kilmer even makes jowliness seem sexy, and carries everything off with supreme style, even at the height of his exasperation with the hapless Harry, who tries Perry’s patience by throwing his best handgun into the lake – a $2,000 gift from his mother.


John Ottoman composed the original soundtrack of “Kiss kiss bang bang”. If we listen to the OST separately, we feel nothing. But when it is attached to every scene and action, it so great. It evokes the mysterious environment, dramatic but also comedic. The music flows with the movie, it doesn’t boost emotion but only the material to make the environment much more interesting.

Black supplies Tarantinoesque flourishes of catastrophic accidental violence from Harry which elicit eye-rolling impatience from Perry. “Kiss kiss bang bang” is the great movie but it isn’t made for children. So beware, don’t let your kids watch it.


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